The Peninsular Florida region encompasses most of Florida south of a line extending from Jacksonville to Steinhatchee on the Gulf Coast. At one time, Florida had nearly 20.4 million acres (8.22 million ha) of wetlands, of which some 9.7 million acres (3.9 million ha) were the type most valuable to waterfowl. Florida has lost millions of acres of wetlands, primarily to urbanization and agriculture. Wetlands in Florida have also been adversely affected by the introduction of several species of invasive exotic plants, such as water hyacinth. Nonetheless, Florida contains some wetland areas that serve as important migration and winter habitat in the Atlantic Flyway, nearly all of which are located within the peninsula.
Importance to waterfowl
- Important waterfowl habitat occurs in association with major rivers such as the St. Johns and Kissimmee, natural lakes such as Lake Okeechobee and many smaller lakes, associated with interior prairie wetlands, and in isolated coastal areas.
- The Indian and Banana rivers provide important winter habitat for 200,000 to 300,000 lesser scaup.
- Much of the best habitat in this region has been lost or affected by channelization, agriculture, flood control, development and drainage.
DU's conservation focus
- Estimate the value of existing foraging habitat in light of both current and desired winter waterfowl populations to develop habitat goals.
- DU has partnered with the USDA NRCS to complete some large, site-specific Wetland Reserve Program projects in Florida.
- Conservation staff are currently evaluating the need and potential expansion of conservation programs in Florida, particularly in the arena of conservation easements and private lands programs.